Publish or perish the thought

In a recent article, Daniele Fanelli and Vincent Larivière test the common claim that contemporary academics are publishing more papers than scientists used to publish. They conclude, contra the myth, that “contemporary science is not suffering from a salami-slicing of papers.”

This is compatible with the observation that journals receive more submissions than they used to, because the overall number of scientists has increased. Moreover, as they note, scientists in non-anglophone countries may be feeling more pressure to publish in anglophone journals.

It is also compatible with the observation that scientists’ CVs list more papers than CVs of earlier times, because coauthoring is more common and the number of coauthors per paper has increased. Part of Fanelli and Larivière’s analysis is to abstract from this effect.

Because of their methodology, their results don’t directly address philosophy. It is still plausible that philosophers are now pushed to publish more than philosophers back in the day, especially since there has been a shift from expecting a book for tenure to expecting some congerie of papers. I also wonder whether the growth of co-authorship in philosophy isn’t partly an adaptation to that demand.

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